Even though concrete is the world’s most highly used construction material, scientists have failed to understand very important fundamental aspect of the material, until now.
A group of researchers from MIT, Georgetown, and CNRS in France believe they have finally figured out whether or not concrete is actually a solid, continuous material, like stone, or a group of materials that are packed so tightly together that they only act like a continuous material. The team found that although there is always a smaller particle that fills open space in the concrete (which would make it a continuous material), concrete never really stops moving, which is why it’s susceptible to cracking and degrading.
So what’s the big deal about a bunch of science junkies looking at concrete through some microscopes and figuring this out? This research could lead to better, more environmentally stable concrete. Because concrete is so widely used and it takes so much heat to cook limestone for cement mixtures, it is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. Optimizing the cement mixture makeup to coincide with this new research data could not only reduce the amount of heat necessary, it could also lower the amount of water needed.
Speaking of water, it’s been widely accepted that the freeze-thaw cycle of water inside the concrete causes cracking as the water expands, but the team says that’s not actually the case. Water can actually enter through pores which range in size from 15 to 20 nanometers (read: super small, one nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) and the water alone causes cracks and further concrete degradation without the help of freezing.
Full story: Riddle of cement’s structure is finally solved | MIT
Tall buildings made with structural timber have been on the rise in Canada and European countries in recent years, but the United States has been slower to adopt the method due to code restrictions. The state of Oregon recently released an addendum to their building code to allow taller mass timber buildings in the state and an upcoming International Code Council (ICC) vote could encourage more states to follow suit.
You may have been sitting in your house or office one day and noticed the distinct sound of a bird hitting the window. It’s pretty common, as it’s estimated that as many as 988 million birds die in the US each year by colliding into glass. The new arena that will house the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks has incorporated some design elements that will reduce the amount of birds killed by the massive structure, allowing it to be dubbed the “World’s Most Bird Friendly Sports Arena.”
Dubai has been on the bleeding edge of pushing the boundaries of construction for over a decade. The famous Burj Khalifa, the current World’s Tallest Building, but the United Arab Emirates on the map. Since then, the country has poured money and resources into the construction industry and have sets their sights on a new challenge: 3D construction printing.
Across the United States, any mass timber building designed to be taller than six stories high has to receive special approval from the building codes department. After a recent addendum was added to the Oregon’s building code, the state has become the first in the country to allow high rise mass timber buildings without receiving any special considerations.
Last summer, Tesla announced that the first of their solar roof tiles had been installed on test houses. However, as has become customary with many Tesla products, the company is experiencing significant manufacturing delays.
Since the dawn of green buildings, these projects have always been synonymous with LEED certification. The process of obtaining that LEED certification has not always been an easy one for contractors; there is a ton of paperwork and documentation that needs to take place in order to prove all LEED credits have been rightfully earned. A new construction standard, called BREEAM, is hoping to disrupt the United States’ green building certification world with its impending New Construction Standard Release in 2019.
One of the biggest hassles of site work in construction is the hauling away of spoils. It’s costly and time consuming to bring in truck after truck to take unneeded soil off to an unknown dump site. When Elon Musk and his team, The Boring Company, started digging a tunnel for a HyperLoop system in Los Angeles, they knew there had to be a better way to handle to soil than to haul it away.
The following is a guest post written by Laurence Banville, Esq.
With much talk about climate change both politically and socially, citizens and the business world have started to calculate the way in which climate change will alter how we live and work. In the past, the construction industry has made a number of speculations about how it would change as the planet gets warmer, however, changes have only started coming in light of the rising temperatures and their effects on the industry.
The USGBC recently released their 2017 data for the Top 10 US States for LEED construction, which is sorted by Gross Square Footage per Capita. That ranking system allows them to get a fair comparison of states, despite differences in population and number of buildings.
As the world not only becomes more familiar with green products, but also starts demanding them, researchers and contractors alike need to be ready to embrace the ever-changing world and meet their customer’s demands. Each year, new products are released that hoping to reduce waste or harness renewable energy sources, but only some of them reach the mass market.
Below are 8 green products, processes, and stories that we found most interesting in 2017: